Philippines Things to Do Tips by elsadran Top 5 Page for this destination
Philippines Things to Do: 422 reviews and 857 photos
in the Manila orchidarium
Most travellers hate Manila because of the traffic, the noise and the overpopulation but it's not so bad if you get used to moving around. I chose to stay in Ermita as it is close to most the action and it's cheap. Rizal Park is a few minute walk. Travel agencies, banks, western and local restaurants, bars with live music and shopping malls are easy to reach on foot. When I wanted to go to the more elegant parts of the city I used the skytrain which is very comfortable and safe. For short distances I used the jeepneys and when loaded with my luggage I took a taxi.
The port is very near for either a boat travel or just a sunset walk . Intramuros is also convenient to reach by jeepney or even on foot. In Rizal Park the information office (DOT) will eagerly help you out and provide you with maps and a bunch of information even copies with hotels and sightseeing info. The Japanese garden, the Chinese garden, the National Museum, the Rizal monument, the Orchidarium, the Planetarium are there. Even a walk around the park is pleasant and it's interesting to watch local families or couples spend their leisure time in the grassy opening of the park.
Robinson Place is a huge multistorey shopping mall where you can find anything you can imagine, have some meals in a decent airconditioned environment, book your tickets, develop your films, catch up with your emails, buy your last day gifts and ... satisfy your palate with some delicious sweets.
Intramuros is also next door where you can spend hours roaming the charming narrow streets, have meals in luxury restaurants or in the small local eateries. San Augustin church, Fort Santiago and Manila Cathedral are also there. Immigration is very near if you need any visa extension. Go just before 12.00 have a coffee at the nearby Starbuck cafe or lunch inside Intramuros and come back later to get it. Dress decently as there is a ..face control..
People in this densely populated city are very helpful and it's safe as long as you stay in the more busy places.
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Greenbelt Mall and Park
Ayala center is a pleasant complex of four shopping malls in Makati, an upmarket part of the city. It is neighbouring Greenbelt Park with Greenbelt Malls which is a gathering of shops, cinemas and eateries where you can easily spend more than one of your leisure days. More malls are still being constructed. The complex is nicely situated in the center of this modern part of the town but it is surrounded by wonderful tropical gardens that give a cool and relaxed feeling. There is a museum in the grounds with art pieces and memorabilia of the Ayala family. There is also a catholic church in the premises where people gather to attend masses or religious speeches. There is easy access by skytrain.
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sailing in boracay
Boracay is the perfect beach !!! The snow-white sand is magic!! You can walk on it at midday and your feet don't feel hot at all !!! The sea water has the clearest turquoise colour I have ever seen. The shady sand way along the beach make your wandering in the numerous restaurants and cafes a real pleasure. You easily make friends and enjoy the laid -back atmosphere and romantic sunsets dining in the comfortable restaurant terraces. Food is excellent. Local people are friendly and not pushy at all. Massages are offered at a very good price. There are lots of stalls selling myriads of local crafts and cheap clothes. And last but not least the music played by local groups is fantastic as well as the bongo players swaying their bodies rhythmically to the reggae sounds!
Of course it is the most popular destination in the country and as a result tourists are more than enough..but it was not as disturbing as I had thought. It is quiet and relaxed.
Accommodation gets cheaper as you move from station 1 to station 4.
A lot of travel agencies and diving centers take you to the most beautiful diving places for unforgettable dives. And sailing is a great attraction as the sailing boats here are exceptionally beautiful !!!
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(for more, watch this video Youtube-Boracay!)
Malapascua is the pearl of the Visayas! This little paradise with its sugar white sand and the turquoise sea has everything for relaxing exotic vacations. There is a line of comfortable beach resorts on Bounty beach and many cheaper ones behind to fit all budgets. There are also some diving centers ready to fulfil all diving aspirations. Nice coral gardens and small beautiful islands nearby offer great diving opportunities. Thresher sharks can only be sighted here. Locals live in the small village on the southwest corner and are quiet and friendly. A round-trip on foot is very enjoyable. There is a lot for you to explore on land and under water. Night life is limited to the few small bars and restaurants on Bounty Beach and the hotels. Locals call it the "small Boracay" but it is in fact a quiet and unspoilt "Boracay" of many years ago. Much better for peaceful vacations!
I have bookmarked Malapascua for my next trip to the Philippines.
And of course the best is having dinner in the perfect scenery of a purple sunset!!!
Bring money. No ATM but some hotels change foreign money.
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Directions: Take a fast bus from Cebu to Maya, the north tip of Cebu island(4-5hours). Then get on the boat to Malapascua only 7 klms away. Start very early as there are no boats after 4 pm. Otherwise rent a local boat for 800 pesos. If more is asked negotiate.
The name of Silay comes from a regional tree, the Kansilay. There are about 108,000 people living in the city. It is located on the north west tip of Negros island which means it is easy to visit it in a day trip from Bacolod. I think it is worthwhile for its ancestral mansions which the locals are trying to maintain and promote as their heritage. They are quite interesting.
Some of the ancestral houses are concentrated in the same region so it's easy to visit them on foot. Local ladies I met in one of them had organized some festivities including singing, traditional dancing and speeches that were intended to draw the attention of the local and national authorities. They need their support to help them restore and maintain these beautiful mansions. Some of them are turned into museums and they still contain furniture and belongings of the people living in them. Some of the antique items exhibited are donations from local people.
A good sample of a restored house is Balay Negrense on 5 de Novembre str.
Silay has been known as the "Paris of Negros" and its "cultural and intellectual hub", when the sugar industry was flourishing in this region, because Silayans have always loved arts and letters.
If you decide to visit this charming little city don't forget to taste the local delicacies at El Ideal Bakery on Rizal street near the Public Plaza. It is an ancestral house itself but the most interesting item is the bako% pie in the bakery, and there are more kinds of pies which I am sure you won't stop eating before you are completely full...!.
Directions: A bus or a jeepney from Bacolod will bring you here in half an hour.
Look at Travelogue Silay for more houses.
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Sugar Beach- Sunset!!!
Sugar Beach is not very easy to reach but rewards you for the trouble. It's the perfect relaxing beach. As it is isolated it is very quiet and picturesque. There is only a front row of hotels made of wood in a style that doesn't disturb the unspoilt beach. There are some local families living at one end occupied mostly in fishing, and the whole beach is offered for the happy tourists to enjoy. The hotels are not very luxurious but some of them are ingeniously decorated. They are clean and efficient and offer some more activities as snorkeling and diving, or boat rides to Sipalay across the bay. The food in most of them is surprisingly tasty and well-served and breakfast is generous. We tried dinner in several of them and every time we left smiling!
Sipalay is a quiet town of about 62,000 people in 12,000 households!!! There you can buy your supplies of fruit and munchies or whatever. People are exceptionally nice !!
I remember a young girl I met on the bus. After we talked for a while she explained to me that I could get the boat for Sugar Beach at a certain resort on the beach of Sipalay. Then she had to go home. I was moved when I saw her coming by taxi to check if I had found the correct place and then she left satisfied !!
The bus drops you off on the central junction where you can buy fresh fruit in the fruit markets and a few more shops but don't have many expectations. It's wise to come with enough money in your pocket.
You can find the resort where you can book a hotel or a boat for Sugar Beach, if you go straight towards the beach from where you got off the bus.
There is also some more up-market accommodation in the nearby beaches.
You can take nice walks along Sugar Beach and even get to the main road if you walk for about half an hour, where you can get the bus to other villages. But the best, the most unforgettable are the romantic orange pink sunsets we enjoyed laying leisurely in our deck chairs or on the hammocks slowly sipping our fruit cocktails !!
Don't forget to try a massage !
Directions: Sipalay is on south west Negros. The bus from Dumaquette will drop you at Kabankalan station where you get another one for Sipalay. If you are coming from North there are buses to Sipalay from Ilo-Ilo.
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ib front of Camiguin Seaside Resort
Camiguin is a beautiful island north of Mindanao. Its mountainous morphology with seven volcanoes result in hot and cold springs and many hiking trails among streams, cascades and lush vegetation.
It has a serene and laid back atmosphere and the inhabitants are peaceful and helpful. Prices are one third of the rest of the other touristic islands and there are great options of diving, snorkeling, and swimming in pristine water and splendid underwater life! The raining season comes between November and February.
Highlights are White island with the sandbar of powder white sand and sky blue water, the Sunken Cemetery, sunk by the disastrous eruption of the active volcano Hibuk-Hibuk, Katibawasan Waterfalls, of 70 meters high, Santo Nino cold springs, Ardent Springs, with a cheap resort (150P for dorms up to 1000P) where you can spend the night relaxing in the unspoilt natural environment, soaking in the hot spring water. There are more if you decide to stay longer...
It's famous for its most tasty lanzones, a kind of small fruit sweet and aromatic.
You can go around in an hour and a half, and it's a good idea to hire a multi-cab (1000p) for 10 people, or a motorcycle (100p ) to see the most beautiful spots. I hired a motorcycle with the driver for 200P but then I gave him 300p as I felt it was not fair for all the trouble he took to show me as much as possible.
You can reach this absolutely safe island flying from Cebu or through Cagayan de Oro, from where you can take the boat or bus to Balingoan and then a small ferry, and cover this in two and half hours.
There are several up market resorts and other low budget ones. Para' resort is one of the best beach resorts ( from 1300P and up), Camiguin Seaside Resort (300-800P) in Mambajao is not bad with a nice restaurant area.
Even if you are travelling alone don't hesitate to go. Although so close to Mindanao, which is better to be avoided, Camiguin is unexpectedly relaxed and safe.
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baguio to Sagada
My stop in Baguio was tiring. Baguio is a charming city with its hilly green views but it is crowded and confusing at weekends and the ride on the tough, narrow snaking road to Sagada is not an easy one. The views are rewarding but the seats too hard to appreciate them.
Its central market is impressive. There is a large square in the center where everybody gathers to take part in the city's action!
The people in the mountain province villages are completely different from the youthful crowd of Baguio. They bear a gallant posture as they have never been conquered by the enemy. They are proud of surviving through all the hardships a tough mountain life involves. But at the same time they are very proud for being free and authentic keeping the old ways of treating land and nature. They live harmoniously with it and care for it. They insist on their old ways of cooking and feeding thus having a perfect and respectable coexistence with Mother Earth. Little unbelievable picturesque villages are climbing the terraced lands . Tranquil people with an open mind and healthy body climb their lives up and down these winding narrow paths tightly hugging with the forest. My first acquaintance with them was enchanting.
They said I should speak their language and they were right..but I didn't. Next time..
The moment I stepped down on the freeland of Sagada the fresh, clean air filled my lungs. The tranquility of the mountain town took away all the weariness of the adventurous ride. It was a long way to ...heaven!
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Sagada is rolling down the scenic slope of the mountain. Tall pine trees are embracing the quiet town. The lack of people grabbing me the moment I got off the bus was a relief. In fact nobody took any notice of my arriving. They smiled to me and went on with what they were doing.
The first night I slept at a hostel right in the central square with a cute balcony and wonderful views but as it was too noisy in the morning I moved to another place. The open market in the square is the perfect place to make your supplies in fresh and healthy vegetables. That's what I did when they invited me to a local house for a couple of days.
It was a delight living with local people, getting into their souls and minds and becoming part of their family. They resented appearing on the Internet and I respect that. To my admiration of this exhilarating place they mentioned that Philippines were pronounced Philippaines there because it was full of pines! It was obvious they were very proud of their unique beauty of their native land. I watched them cook their local dishes, make bread and go peacefully on with their everyday life and I communicated with them exchanging endless stories of our so different cultures. They eagerly accompanied me in my my walks in the heavenly forested mountains and joined me in gazing at the miraculous terraces with awe and respect to Mother Nature. In my lonely hikes I sometimes got lost almost on purpose giving myself the opportunity to admire the natural wonder of the region.
I love nature and I fell in love with Sagada!!! (continue to next tip...)
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in the classroom...
I didn't see the coffins or the caves or other sightseeing but I didn't care less as I filled my heart with the genuine beauty of the paths my friends guided me to and I felt like a ..pioneer learning the use of a long knife to cut the thorny branches jutting out in our way.
I did stay out late, though, hitting some beers or local wine at a lovely wooden bar with the typical straw roof talking away to the romantic sound of an amateur guitar player. The bar is on the main road.
I had some savoury meals at Masferre Country Restaurant (not inn ) and Yogurt house ( delicious!!! ).
I admired the inspired photographs of the great art photographer Masferre and communicated with the playful small children!
I bought some local craft at the Weaving Center on the way to Kiltepan. ( They didn't allow me to take any photos inside when I asked..)
I had a tiny mouse as a roommate at Sagada Igorrot Inn. A mischief maker..
I left reluctantly with sweet memories!
Freedom and serenity!!!
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